Saturday, March 17, 2018

Jeepers Creepers 3

Director - Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers, Powder)
Starring - Stan Shaw (The X-Files, The Monster Squad), Gabrielle Haugh (Mother, May I Sleep with Danger, 13 Reasons Why), and Brandon Smith (From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, Bernie)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - "On the last day..."
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     When I was in middle school I rented Jeepers Creepers on tape at the local video store.  Some friends at school told me it was awesome and I decided to check it out.  I really liked the film and when the sequel was released when I was in high school I went ahead and rented it.  It was solid but nothing as fun as the first film.  Over the years I pretty much forgot about the two films until articles was being shared on social media about director Victor Salva and his arrest and conviction involving child porn and sexual misconduct with a child.  This made me sick to my stomach and made me want to throw away the films.  I was disgusted that I ever liked the films.  A few days later Jonathan Breck, the creep, shared a video.  His video was very heartfelt and addressed Victor's prior arrest.  He stated how he understood why people were upset and he agreed that what he did was inexcusable but they shouldn't destroy Jeepers Creepers and the sequel because the films were more than just Victor.  So many people worked hard to make these films possible.  A year or so later news of the third broke and I didn't care.  Eventually the film was released and I was sent a review copy.  I thought about ignoring it but the thought of receiving something to review and not doing what is ask of me made me feel like a piece of shit.  I finally decided to review it (Obviously if you are reading this) but I was going to be honest and not sugar coat the disgusting acts Victor Salva did.
     The film  takes place a few days after the first two films with the creep killing and eating as many victims as he can for the 23 days he roams the countryside.  A police team find his vehicle and attempts to tow it but the creep has it booby trapped.  The creep is able to get his vehicle and we learn that several officers have spent most of their life training to kill the beast.  Meanwhile, an elderly lady has custody of her granddaughter and are struggling financially.  She lost her son the last time the creep was roaming the country side and fears her granddaughter may suffer the same fate.  They try to work together to stop the ancient evil from killing more of the innocent but will they be able to stop something that is older than time itself?
     I know a lot of fans that absolutely love the first two films and went rabid when news of the third film was released.  Most of them don't say much about the third installment.  The film itself was plagued with misfortune ranging from delays, cast dropping out due to Salva's past, and so on.  As much as I hate to admit it but I do enjoy the first film.  Justin Long's performance is fantastic but Jeepers Creepers 3 dropped the ball.  The acting in this one is solid but there was several scenes that seemed to be lacking direction.  The cast really gets into there characters with a few going above and beyond.  Their characters stand out and overshadows some of the other cast.  Sadly, there is a few scenes where the cast just doesn't seem motivated or lacked conviction.  These scenes are few and far in between but are clearly visible and difficult to watch.  The story for this one is more of what was established in the first two films but with more awareness of the creature.  I liked how the story looked a little more into the creatures backstory with a little more character development.  The film does fill a bit too long for what we get and it did not need to be as long as it is.  The film could have been condensed a lot more but I assume it was shot this way due to budget and scenes being deleted.  Finally, the film has a few bloody gags that incorporate practical and visual effects.  The practical effects looks great but the visual effects are down right shitty.  I've seen some pretty bad SyFy flicks over the years but the CGI in this one is complete shit.  I don't know what they were thinking.  Overall, Jeepers Creepers 3 is the shitty half-brother to the first two films.  The film borrows heavily from the other films but doesn't bring anything new to the table.  Skip it.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Hellraiser: Judgement

Director - Gary J. Tunnicliffe (Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk)
Starring - Damon Carney (Logan, The Long Ranger), Randy Wayne (Death Pool, True Blood), and Alexandra Harris (In the Shadows, Murder in the First)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Evil seeks evil"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     The Hellraiser series is one of those series where I lose friends.  My opinions on the series usually piss people off because most adults can't stand it when someone else has a different opinion than them on something.  I watched the first Hellraiser film in middle school and did not care for it.  It was rather boring and predictable.  I enjoyed the effects and the lore it created but the delivery was bland.  A few years later I rented Hellbound: Hellraiser II, and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth and I absolutely loved them.  This prompted me to give the first film another shot and my opinion of the film did not change.  In high school I watched the other Hellraiser films and felt like I wasted a huge chunk of time.  When Hellraiser: Judgement was announced I honestly didn't give a damn.  I told a few horror friends that I had no interest in the film and they begged me to give it a chance.  I requested a review copy and I'm glad I did.  I really enjoyed this installment in the series.
     The film follows the cenobites and Stygian Inquisition who have changed their ways of obtaining souls by offering "rewards" and those that seek it are to confess their sins where they are then judged, cleansed, and sentenced.  Meanwhile, a pair of detective who are brothers are working on capturing a serial killer known as The Preceptor when they are assigned a third female partner.  While following a lead one of the detective comes across the cenobites new headquarters and he is put through the process where he is revealed to be a tremendous sinner but they are stopped at the last minute by a figure presumed to be an angel.  He leaves but his brother and new partner start to piece together clues and discovers that he knows more about the killer than he is letting on.
     Hellraiser has one of the most fascinating stories with so much lore attached to it.  Sadly, films rarely explore the other possibilities other than Pinhead torturing those unfortunate enough to unlock the puzzle box.  That is why I enjoy parts 2 and 3 more than the first film.  We get a bigger glimpse at the lore and other characters outside of Pinhead.  Hellraiser: Judgement puts Pinhead in the back seat and dives deeper into the Hellraiser story while unsuccessfully adapting it for the modern age.  The acting in this one is great.  The three detectives; Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, and Alexandra Harris all worked well together.  Their characters had a lot of depth and they represented them very well on screen.  Paul Taylor takes on the role of Pinhead.  He's not a bad Pinhead.  He's no Doug Bradley but he is a hell of a lot better than fat Pinhead from Revelations.  My favorite performance and new character is that of Gary Turnicliffe who portrays the Auditor for the Stygian Inquisition.  Can't wait to see where they take this character next.  The story for this one has its ups and down.  I really enjoyed the introduction of the Stygian Inquisition and a deeper look into hell with the Cenobites taking the back seat for a bit.  There is so much opportunity here and I love how this blended in with the serial killer drama unfolding with the police detectives that reminded me a lot of Se7en.  There was a few things that bugged me.  The first being how they attracted new souls.  The SI changed things up and started using snail mail with offers of rewards to draw in souls.  It's 2018 and snail mail is the best way to "update" a story?  Why not an app promising sex or money like Tindr?  A couple little changes would have made this story one of the better Hellraiser films.  Finally, the film has several deaths.  The kills are bloody for the most part but the most impressive aspect of this is the practical effects.  The Cenobites and Stygian look fantastic.  The after math of the kills is also fantastic.  Fans of the original film will love the way this one looks.  Overall, Hellraiser: Judgement is a great installment in the already popular Hellraiser series.  Fans of the first film may not enjoy this one but if you want a Hellraiser story that is more then Cenobite torturing you will like this.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday

Director - Mike Lombardo (The Stall, Long Pig)
Starring - Hope Bikle (Mama's Boy), Reeve Blazi, and Damian Maffei (Christmas with the Dead, Night of the Pumpkin)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror/Thriller
Tagline - "Seasons greetings from the end of the world"
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Mike Lombardo is an indie filmmaker I've known for a few years now.  When I first started my reviews I spotted people sharing his shorts in different horror groups.  A year or so later I was invited to write for Horror Society and I became friends with Mike.  He sent over his short The Stall and I fell in love with it.  It was a fantastic Lovecraftian short that borrowed style from Dario Argento and classic 80s horror.  I absolutely loved it and immediately bought his short collection and a shirt that I would often wear to church (my wife hates it).  Sometime ago Mike announced that his short story I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday was going to be adapted into a short.  I was excited for this but over time he saw that his vision was bigger than a short so a feature was now in the works. I waited for what felt like a decade and the film was finally finished and making the festival circuit.  Mike recently won two awards at the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival and was telling me about it.  He was king enough to let me see this film.  I wish I would have skipped it.  Thanks Mike!
     The film follows an all American family (unless they are Canadian) who survive a disaster or some sort that has reduced the world around them to ash.   The mother, father, and son live in a bunker but when their rations get low the father leaves the safety of their bunker to search for supplies.  When he fails to return the mother leaves to look for him where she comes across an injured woman.  She realizes she can't help her and can see she doesn't have long before she dies.  She steals her bag and leaves her behind.  When she arrives at the bunker she quickly learns that her trip was not fruitful and the bag she stole had no real supplies in it.  Only a few cookies.  Knowing her son will suffer if she doesn't feed him she puts a plan in motion to poison him with the cookies as to avoid suffering.  What she doesn't know is that this Christmas Eve Santa is making his rounds and his last stop is with them.  Is this the jolly Ol' Saint Nick we all know and love or is it something more sinister brought about by the apocalypse?
     I'm a piece of shit.  People that really know will agree with that statement.  I'm loud, opinionated, and an asshole to almost everyone.  With that being said, I love my children more than life itself.  They are my everything and I will do anything to give them the childhood I didn't have.  My love for my children is why I hate Mike Lombardo.  I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday is one of my most anticipated films.  I was looking forward to some post-apocalyptic fun.  Instead Mike hit me with an emotional horror thriller that left me feeling anxious and nervous.  Fuck you, Mike.  The acting in this is fantastic.  The entire cast works very well together and they do an amazing job at bringing their characters to life.  However, the film hinges on Hope Bikle's performance as the loving mother.  Her performance is an emotional trip that draws the viewer in.  I feel sorry for anyone who watches this and doesn't feel moved by her amazing performance.  The story for this one is not what I was expecting and for that I'm grateful.  I thought the film was going to be a straight forward post-apocalyptic horror flick but Mike isn't about that life.  Instead, he wrote a fairly simple story that the viewer was not expecting.  It packs some serious emotional punch and keeps the viewer glued to the screen.  The story for this one is a bit of a slow burner but that only helps build the atmosphere and tension.  Finally, if you want gore you can count on Reel Splatter to deliver.  The film doesn't have a conventional death scene.  We do have some unexpected gore that catches the viewer off guard with great practical effects.  We also have a death of sorts that is very unique just like the story itself.  This death doesn't have gore but it still delivers and you will have to take my word on it.  Overall, I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday is an emotional hellride.  This movie hit me on an emotional level that most films don't and I mean that as the highest compliment to Mike Lombardo.  Mike was able to craft something truly unforgettable and did not let something like budget or lack of resources stop him.  This film is a must.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Day of the Dead: Bloodline

Director - Hector Hernandex Vicens (The Corpse of Anna Fritz, Pol Cia)
Starring - Sophie Skelton (Outlander, So Awkward), Johnathon Schaech (Legends of Tomorrow, The Forsaken), and Jeff Gum (American Family, New Girl)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Join the undying war"

Rating (out of 5):

     I've been a George A. Romero fan for as long as I can remember.  I can remember watching Savini's remake of Night of the Living Dead with my grandmother when I was little and I then rented the original shortly after.  The remake is a spectacular and an amazing film in it's own right but the original has damn near perfect tension and atmosphere.  A few years later a friend had Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead on tape.  We watched the Dead Trilogy that weekend and I fell in love with Dawn.  However, when I tossed in Day I remember becoming uneasy and uncomfortable.  I couldn't finish the film.  I was 9 and made up an excuse to watch something else again.  It would be a few years before I got the balls to watch Day of the Dead but when I did I loved it.  In fact, I loved it so much that when I started my horror movie sleeve Bub was the first one I had tattooed.  I was open minded to the idea of Day being remade yet again.  The first sequel and remake to Day was big turds covered in zombie make up.  I was lucky enough to receive a review copy and prayed to Odin that this film would be better.
     The film follows a military compound in the middle of a zombie outbreak.  Most of the world's population has been turned into the undead with a small military outpost and a group of survivors trying to make the best of things when a young child becomes sick.  A female doctor and a few soldiers make a special trip to her old clinic to find the medicine they need but accidentally take back a special zombie who was once a man who tried to rape the doctor.  He is unlike the other rotters and can actually think and reason.  He sneaks into their compound and starts killing people before he is caught.  She uses his blood to find a cure but that turns out to be more dangerous than she expected resulting in him getting loose and the outpost becomes overrun with the undead.
     Day of the Dead: Bloodline tried to keep looks and feel of the original classic alive but took too many liberties with some of the characters which was a huge turn off for fans.  The film could have been another decent Wal-Mart horror flick that rides the line of mediocrity but tried to be a movie it couldn't.  The acting in this one isn't bad but the characters just didn't go the distance like the original cast did.  In the original film you have unforgettable performances from Lori Cardille, Joe Pilato, Terry Alexander, Jarlath Conroy, and Gary Howard Klar with Howard Sherman taking on the role of Bub.  This cast created characters that still entertain to this day regardless of how many times you've seen the film.  Sadly, the cast we get with this film create easily forgettable characters that are carbon copies of almost every zombie apocalypse film you've seen in the last five years.  The story for this one somewhat resembles the original story following a military team and a group of survivors and scientists working together to survive with an asshole soldier in control of it all.  However, in this film the asshole soldier is not intimidating at all and the scientist angle is completely removed.  Instead we have the female doctor researching a cure and found a zombie that is somewhere between living and the undead.  The story would have worked if they would have abandoned the whole Day of the Dead angle and it made it their own.  The film has a solid amount of action but the viewer spends too much time comparing it to the classic instead of watching it as a stand alone film.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills that are bloody and fantastic.  If there is one positive note about this film its that it has some fantastic gore.  The practical effects are on point and the blood is plenty.  Overall, Day of the Dead: Bloodline does not live up to it's name.  The film is a let down but it is bloody.  If you are looking for gore and nothing else then this one is for you.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Fireside Tales

Director - Ian Messenger (Monkey Farm, Friday the 13th: Legacy)
Starring - Donna Brown, Justin Celani (Monkey Farm), and Tim Christie (Monkey Farm, Friday the 13th: Legacy)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Some stories are dying to be told"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     I love getting in bigger budget flicks to review.  These are usually movies I've watched growing up but was hard to find on a format not VHS and was recently released on blu or dvd.  Sometimes these may be newer movies leaving theaters that I want to check out but never had the time to make the trip to the cinema.  As much as I love this bigger budget flick I still prefer this no to low budget indie productions.  They are a lot more ballsier and gives the viewer films most production companies would never back.  A few nights ago I watched the indie found footage flick Monkey Farm from Catchme Killme Productions.  The film was a rough watch but the ending made up for the film.  The next horror flick on the chopping block was another Catchme Killme production.  This time I will be looking at the anthology film Fireside Tales.

     The film follows a group of twenty-somethings who gather around a fire one evening to tell ghost stories.  The first story they tell involves another group of young adults who is terrorized in the desert by a disfigured man with a knack for killing.  The story follows a young girl out for a jog when she is attacked and killed by a oversized man.  Her dad goes looking for her and finds the killer wearing her face.  The second tale follows a brother and sister pair that are harboring a dark secret deep in the mountains of the nearby desert.  The third tale follows three young women having a movie night but someone is stalking and killing them one by one.  The young adults telling the stories think their simple night of story telling and hanging out will end in a night of great memories but something dangerous is lurking around them.

     I went into Fireside Tales expecting a film similar to Campfire Stories and for the most part it was.  We follow a small group of young adults telling stories around the campfire while something sinister waits for them in the darkness.  Sadly, the stories we see are not that entertaining or original which results in an easily forgettable movie experience.  The acting in this one is not that consistent throughout the film.  Some of the stories has cast that does a tremendous job in their role creating genuine characters that feel real while others struggle to find their footing.  I don't have the time to pick apart each and every segment but inexperience is visible in each segment with the wraparound story the biggest example of this.  The cast tries to get into character but their dialogue is not natural.  Their conversations is awkward to watch at times which is the opposite of the desired effect.  The stories for this one is very clichéd, and predictable.  Each tale borrows heavily from classic horror films like The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The killers have no personality and offer up very little in the way of originality.  The characters fall victim to the clichés of these films as well and the stories are very predictable.  With  that being said, there was one I was very impressed with which involved the young girls having a movie night.  Even though the story is predictable and you know exactly where it was going to go you still enjoyed the trip.  Finally, this one isn't as bloody as I would have liked.  There is several deaths but most of which takes place off screen.  We get a few gags here and there was minimal practical effects but that is the extent of it.  Overall, Fireside Tales was not for me.  The film is very familiar and offers very little originality to the genre.  Skip this one and check out Monkey Farm.

Thor: Ragnarok

Director - Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, The Inbetweeners)
Starring -  Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Cabin in the Woods), Tom Hiddleston (Kong: Skull Island, Crimson Peak), and Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Hot Fuzz)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Comedy
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     When it comes to comics I'm considered a weird duck.  I don't care for Superman and Batman but I do like the movies based on the character.  My favorite characters in the DC world is Green Lantern and Flash.  In fact, these two characters are my two favorite characters hands down.  However, when I talk about Marvel I find it difficult to pick a favorite.  I'm partial to Doctor Strange, Howard Duck, and a few other oddballs characters.  When Marvel released The Incredible Hulk a few years back I knew they would eventually get around to a Thor flick but I was concerned how they would handle it.  After that first film I find myself getting excited every time they announce a new Thor film.  The first two films in the Thor series is fantastic and when news of the third film was announced I almost pissed myself.  With the film recently released on home video I reached out and was able to get a review copy of the film.  I'm glad I did because this is the best Thor film yet.
     The film follows Thor and his brother Loki who are kicked from Asgard when their unknown sister Hela is released from her imprisonment after the death of their father Odin.  She starts killing those that are not loyal to her and sets her sights on ruling the galaxy.  Thor is sent to the trash planet Sakaar.  The Grandmaster plans on using Thor to fight the planet's champion Hulk but when Thor gets the upper hand on Hulk the fight is sabotaged and Thor loses.  Thor is put in Hulks chambers where they are prisoners of The Grandmaster.  Hulk loves his new life but Thor has to leave and get back to his people on Asgard.  He soon learns that Loki is on Sakaar and plans an escape with Hulk, Loki, and Valkyrie a former Valkyrior of Odin who once fought Hela.  When they arrive they find a small resist of Asgardians fighting but soon realize that Hela is no match for them.  Thor and the others try to rescue his people before invoking Ragnarok which will put an end to Hela and Asgard.
     The Thor films are some of my favorite in the MCU.  Antman and Doctor Strange will always be my favorite films so far but Thor holds his own.  With the Thor films each one has improved over the other with Ragnarok topping the other two.  Sadly, with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy the film doesn't really feel like a Thor film.  The acting in this one is great.  Hemsworth once again kills it as Thor.  In the world of Hollywood and blockbusters Hemsworth is a name I normally don't mention.  He's far from my favorite actor but I couldn't imagine anyone else representing the character on screen.  Hiddleston reprises his role of Loki and once again establishes himself as one of the more entertaining characters in the MCU.  His performance is award winning.  He can be sinister when need be and delivers some well time laughs when the film calls for it.  My favorite performance, at least voice acted, belonged to director Taika Waititi who voiced Korg who became the film's breakout character.  This character was fantastic and literally made the most dire and dramatic scenes shine with laughter.  The story for this one does feel like the story of Thor was tossed into a blender with Guardians of the Galaxy and Planet Hulk.  It works well but could have honestly just been another Guardians film with the guardians replacing the Asgardians.  I would prefer a more tradition Thor film but this one is not bad.  The film has a lot of action, bold story, and humor is everywhere.  Finally, the film is a visual feast.  The film uses an impressive amount of practical effects.  Some of the creatures, weapons, sets, and so on look fantastic.  The film also showcases some great visual effects.  Some are better than others.  Some of the effects are mesmerizing while others stand out like a sore thumb (whatever that really means).  Overall, Thor: Ragnarok is another fantastic entry in the MCU.  The film looks amazing and brazenly took the God of Lightning and put him in the middle of one of the most epic space films of recent years.  Check it out.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Monkey Farm

Director - Ian Messenger (Fireside Tales, Friday the 13th: Legacy)
Starring - Don Carlos, Justin Celani (Fireside Tales), and Tim Christie (Fireside Tales, Friday the 13th: Legacy)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Some stories should never be told"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     A few years back I befriended Marc Schoenbach on Facebook after several filmmaker friends shared posters he had done for their films.  His work is untouched and easily some of the best posters I have seen.  When I first saw his work I got the impression he drew inspiration from the golden age of VHS and the tapes I would rent at my local ma and pa video stores.  I recently discovered I was wrong.  This summer I started collecting 80s horror paperbacks and realized that he drew inspiration from these classic paperbacks.  This made me love his work even more.  As awesome as his work is the films he sometimes contributes artwork for is not always as good.  This has turned into a game.  I call it the Sadist quality game.  Not long ago director Shawn Burkett (my boo) got me in contact with Tim Fattig who I believe produced Monkey Farm and Fireside Tales.  Tim was kind enough to send both films over to review.  Monkey Farm boasts one of my favorite Sadist Art designs and would be another turn in the Sadist quality game!  Thanks Tim for sending this one my way.
     The film follows a group of documentary filmmakers who are making a film on experimentation on animals.  After several interviews they are made the suggestion to check out a place called the Monkey Farm that was shut down due to pressure from the public. The place is conveniently close so they venture out to it.  While there they uncover paperwork on a chimp supposedly over 6 feet tall that was captured with no paperwork of its death or release.  They leave and enlist the help of a skunk ape hunter to explore the area more in hopes of finding the chimp but what they find is something far worse than a large primate.
     I tossed this one in knowing it was a found footage flick and how I usually react to them.  I mostly hate found footage flicks for their annoying characters and extremely awkward dialogue.  After 40 minutes I was ready to flick the switch and write a bad review for this one.  I forced myself through the remainder of the film and actually enjoyed it once the ending took hold.  The acting in this one wasn't that entertaining.  I try to keep my reviews positive especially when I review an indie no budget flick but this one was rough at times to watch but I don't want to blame the cast.  The film tries to capture that "real" look that so many found footage films strive for.  Their natural conversations and off topic dialogue may be realistic but makes for a boring watch.  The cast's small talk doesn't feel genuine or authentic which makes several of the scenes feel forced.  The story for this one is a great idea on paper and would have been a phenomenal short but was not that effective after it was stretched to feature length.  The first 40 or so minutes of the film is rough to sit through.  The dialogue is painful and the scenes are bland.  However, once they enter the old facility with the skunk ape hunter the film takes a different turn.  The momentum picks up and the horror element shines.  The ending saves the film.  I also liked the skunk ape House of 1000 Corpses nod.  Was unexpected but fit nicely.  Finally, the film has a great looking creature that is very underutilized.  I loved the way the chimp looks and acted.  Sadly, the film isn't as bloody as I would have liked.  The carnage takes place off camera with the viewer just getting a glimpse of the red stuff.  The effects are minimal with the exception of the chimp mask which was fantastic.  Overall, Monkey Farm has a lot of potential but struggles with the pacing and length.  If the beginning is heavily edited this would make a fantastic short but as a feature film it is a bit of a chore to finish.  However, if you stick with it you will surely enjoy yourself.  Check it out.